Do you want to own the No.1 wide receiver or the No. 1 tight end
Of course you do. We all do.
What if I could show you a statistic that your wide receiver or
tight end MUST DO to become the best at his position?
The key is red zone targets!
It’s actually pretty logical. Scoring touchdowns adds fantasy
points at a fast pace, so getting as many chances as possible
leads to very good things for receivers and fantasy owners. In
this case, every No.1 ranked receiver and tight end over the past
four seasons can be found by searching for top-10 total red zone
targets. Below, I pulled out the top-10 red zone targets for you
In 2020 both Davante Adams and Travis Kelce led their position in
fantasy points per game. In fact, Adams has been in the top-five
of red zone targets since 2016 and Kelce in the top-10 since 2017.
If you are a tight end and finish in the top-10 in targets, your
average tight end position rank is fourth and all four winners
are there; Kelce three times and Rob Gronkowski once. Only twice
did a top-10 tight end finish outside the top-four and that was
a pair of years for Jimmy Graham where he didn’t catch a
lot of passes between the 20s, just near the end zone.
If you are a wide receiver, again, every winner is on the list;
Adams twice, Michael Thomas once and Antonio Brown once. The average
finish of a wideout who finished in the top-10 in red zone targets
is 10.7. Not as good as the tight end position, but still the
average player on the chart is a WR1.
So what do we do with the information? How do we incorporate
this knowledge into our draft?
First off we pray Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay and continues
to throw to Adams.
Second, we have to look at each individual teams and evaluate
which receivers are going to be their team’s favorite red
In Carolina, Robby Anderson led the team in targets with 16 and
the No.2 option, Curtis Samuel is no longer with the team (WFT).
Anderson also has a previous link with new starting quarterback
Sam Darnold when they played together in New York and this could
lead to even more opportunities for the Panthers’ wideout.
If you are thinking D.J. Moore is better than Anderson (yes, he
may have more talent), know Moore saw just six red zone targets
in 15 games last season.
The Bengals’ Tyler Boyd led the team with 18 targets, but
No.2 and No.3, Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green respectively, are
gone and their combined 26 targets are available. If we can determine
who between Boyd, Tee Higgins and rookie Ja’Marr Chase will
get the biggest share we should have a WR1 receiver. At the moment
I say Boyd, but I think we’ll have to wait to see more input.
In Detroit, the team let both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones
leave town. With multiple question marks on the outside, T.J. Hockenson returns after seeing a 2020 Lions’ second-best
16 red zone targets and could be in line for a huge jump.
Darren Waller saw 27 of 90 team red zone targets last season
and the No.2 guy on the 2020 Raiders, Nelson Agholor, took his
17 targets to New England. Unless Henry Ruggs or John Brown suddenly
becomes a red zone guy, the imbalance could be even greater in
2021 and Waller could finally beat out Kelce for No. 1.
Michael Thomas, the 2019 No.1 fantasy wideout, disappeared in
2020 for many reasons, but should rebound in a big way in 2021.
Jared Cook (17 targets) and Emmanuel Sanders (14 targets) have
moved on leaving 31 targets available. Thomas only saw 11 last
season, but 26 in 2019 and could return to the top of the red
zone target list and WR1 status.
The Titans’ Jonnu Smith led the team with 19 targets and
eight red zone touchdowns in 2020, but he’ll be catching
passes for Bill Belichick this season. Meanwhile, the addition
of All-Pro Julio Jones is great, but he’s never been a big
touchdown guy (only once hitting double-digit TDs in 2012). Therefore,
A.J. Brown should become even more dangerous than last season,
when he finished seventh-best at 17.4 FPts/G. In 2020, Brown turned
15 red zone targets into eight touchdowns, so if he gets just
10 more close in targets, a dozen red zone touchdowns should be
within reach which could make Brown a huge threat to be the best
fantasy wide receiver in the league.